November 19, 2014

Paul Scharre and Michael Horowitz on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

By Michael Horowitz and Paul Scharre

hen the robots start thinking for themselves in the movies or on TV, it’s never a good sign for the humans. Whether the setting is Earth or Caprica, letting robots think and giving them weapons is a precursor to human destruction. Fearing such a result, a coalition of NGOs is advocating that the international community ban lethal autonomous weapons systems, which these groups call “killer robots.” It’s a striking phrase, but what exactly is a killer robot? Homing munitions, like torpedoes, incorporate some autonomy and have been in existence since World War II. Today, nearly every modern military uses them. Are they “killer robots”?

As technology advances, it’s important that we recognize the difference between “killer robots” and merely “smart weapons.” It’s a line that some activists have blurred—pushing to ban not just the sci-fi robot warriors of the future, but also the precision-guided munitions that have dramatically reduced civilian casualties in wars over the past 6 decades. Such a move would be a mistake. Precision-guided munitions lie at the heart of efforts to make the use of force safer for civilians and more effective at quickly achieving its objectives.

Read the full article at Politico.

  • Podcast
    • March 12, 2019
    CNAS Tech: How (Not) to Talk About AI & Lethality

    The U.S. Army recently announced its new Advanced Targeting & Lethality Automated System, or ATLAS program. The announcement generated concern and media headlines about the le...

    By Paul Scharre, Kara Frederick & Megan Lamberth

  • Video
    • September 18, 2018
    Will WWIII Be Fought By Robots?

    What will autonomous weapons mean for how future wars are waged and the loss of human lives in armed conflicts? That's the topic of a new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapon...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • September 13, 2018
    A Million Mistakes a Second

    Militaries around the globe are racing to build ever more autonomous drones, missiles, and cyberweapons. Greater autonomy allows for faster reactions on the battlefield, an ad...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • NBC News
    • August 7, 2018
    Six arrested after Venezuelan president dodges apparent assassination attempt

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was speaking at a military event when a drone carrying plastic explosives detonated on Saturday. CNAS Technology and National Security Dire...

    By Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia